Division Of Marital Assets In A Divorce In Massachusetts

On behalf of Edward L. Amaral, Jr. at Amaral & Associates, P.C.

When spouses are going through a divorce, there are many issues that need to be addressed: child support and custody, alimony, health insurance, and division of assets. Division of assets in a divorce can be a stressful topic to address.

Contrary to popular thought, in Massachusetts, each spouse does not automatically get 50% of the marital assets. Rather, Massachusetts is an equitable division state, which means assets must be divided in a fair and reasonable manner, which may or may not be a 50/50 split. In dividing assets, spouses must be guided by M.G.L. c. 208 §34, which outlines factors to consider in dividing marital assets. Those factors are:

  1. Length of marriage.
  2. Conduct of the respective parties during the marriage.
  3. Ages of the respective parties.
  4. Health of the respective parties.
  5. Station of the respective parties.
  6. Occupations of the respective parties.
  7. Amount and sources of income of the respective parties.
  8. Vocational skills of the respective parties.
  9. Employability of the respective parties.
  10. Estates of the respective parties.
  11. Liabilities of the respective parties.
  12. Needs of the respective parties.
  13. Current needs of the minor children of the marriage.
  14. Future needs of the minor children of the marriage.
  15. Opportunities available to the respective parties for future acquisition of capital.
  16. Opportunities available to the respective parties for future acquisition of income.
  17. Contributions of the respective parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their estates.
  18. Contributions of Husband and Wife as homemaker.

The next step is to ascertain what must be divided. Marital property includes all property: real estate, bank accounts, personal property, home furnishings, vehicles, watercraft, investment accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, interests in trusts, future inheritance for a spouse, business interests, and intellectual property rights. Under Massachusetts law, all property is subject to division, regardless of whether it is jointly owned by the spouses, or owned individually by one spouse.

Depending on the value of the marital estate, or what assets are part of the estate, sometimes it is useful to engage financial experts to appraise and value certain assets, like business interests, as certain interests can be difficult to value without the assistance of expert.

Once spouses ascertain what must be divided, then they must divide the property in an equitable fashion, keeping in mind the factors of M.G.L. c. 208 §34. As this process can become somewhat technical, and certain transfers can have tax implications, spouses should consult attorneys when dividing assets, so they better understand what and how to divide their assets.